Connie Ozyjowski

Connie OzyjowskiCurrent Position: Associate Director, Donor Engagement

Alma Mater: Coe College and University of Portland

Major/Undergraduate field of study: Accounting & Business Administration

What was it like being among the first in your family to go to college?

I grew up in a very loving family, who always encouraged us to do our best. Money was often a struggle & I knew I didn’t want to have the money struggles we had growing up. A college degree always seemed to be the answer. I remember the whole college application process & financial aid forms being daunting. My parents hadn’t completed them before so I had to get help from my high school counselors. My counselors also helped me select a few colleges to apply to. It also helped that all of my high school friends were applying to college.

Are there any unique challenges you faced as a First Generation student?

I wish I had done a more comprehensive college search and I also wish I had spent more time exploring what I should major in. Since my parents hadn’t graduated from college, they were just excited for me to be attending. Because we hadn’t saved much for my education, money was an issue. I worked a part-time job all through college, in order to have enough funds to pay for my tuition. Many nights I had to make choices between work, which was off campus, studying and hanging out with my friends.

Do you have any advice for FGEN students at UP that are facing challenges?

Our campus is full of people that can help you with anything you’re struggling with. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, even if it seems like a silly question. People love to help one another & UP offers so much support - take advantage of it! The Shepard Academic Center, The Career Center, your RA, and Campus Ministry are only a few of the many many people here to help. 

Did a mentor play a role in your FGEN experience?  How so?

My first year dorm was mostly upperclassmen. I relied on the girls on my floor to learn the ins and outs of college life. I have to say my most influential mentors came later in my life as I entered the work force & started my career, which was in Financial Services. 

How do you feel your experience prepared you, both professionally and personally?

In college I stepped out of my comfort zone and got involved. I gained a lot of self confidence that I didn’t have in high school. Balancing work and school taught me to be organized & to prioritize.

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